Home  |  UNS info  |  UNS info  |  Prosecutor Kelmendi: Witnesses to crimes against journalists will be protected
Increase Font Size Reset Font Size Decrease Font Size Print Page Print Page

Send to friend

UNS info

22. 08. 2019.

Author: Jelena L. Petković ???source???: UNS

Prosecutor Kelmendi: Witnesses to crimes against journalists will be protected

- We hoped that EULEX’s performance would be better than UNMIK’s, I must also say, regretfully, that I am disappointed. They did absolutely nothing in the investigations into the murders of journalists.

The documentation that we have received does not indicate that the prosecutors of that Mission addressed the police to ask if there was any new information, findings, evidence, witnesses, or that they asked the victims' families for information. Under the Criminal Procedure Law, the Prosecutor’s Office is under such an obligation, as well as under the obligation to inform the Chief Prosecutor every three months about the progress and further actions to be taken in each case. If there is no evidence that EULEX prosecutors were conducting such interviews, then they have done nothing at all. On the other hand, be sure that your texts have provided important information that I forwarded to the competent prosecutors, says the Special Prosecutor with the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and Coordinator for Cases Involving Attacks against Journalists, Besim Kelmendi, in his answer to the question about what he found in the folders of the EU Rule of Law Mission that have reached the new address for investigation – the Kosovo Prosecutor’s Office.


Prosecutor Kelmendi urges all citizens having information regarding the kidnappings and murders of journalists in Kosovo to contact the Prosecutor’s Office or the investigators of the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS), guaranteeing that their identities will be protected. He also underlines that the law also allows exemption from criminal liability of those who agree to stand as witnesses for the Prosecutor’s Office.

UNMIK deserving of being held criminally liable for its investigations, disbelief over EULEKS’s investigations  

After years without investigations under the UNMIK mandate of, and then of EULEX, all journalist murder and kidnapping cases were taken over by the Kosovo Prosecutor’s Office in December 2018. This is the first time that a prosecutor's office has a complete list of all investigations at the same address, but also that all investigative actions start from the beginning, for the third time.

Regarding the claim of the families of murdered and kidnapped journalists that EULEX prosecutors have neither called nor informed them, Kelmendi stresses that "this is not normal".

 - A Prosecutor must be in constant contact with the aggrieved parties, ready to receive and listen to them and request information from them. If you are asking me if our prosecutors are doing it now, I know that they have taken certain investigative actions in several cases. I have also forwarded some information I received from a journalist from Serbia (author’s note - data from UNS Investigation) to them. Today I have the exact address to which I forward the information, but as a prosecutor I am not satisfied until I see the results. If a murder was committed during the war, it is very difficult to come up with evidence. That is why I think it would be important that the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade meet and exchange information.

After 1999, the Prosecutor recalls, there were situations when KFOR soldiers conducted crime scene investigations.

- How can a soldier, without adequate knowledge, conduct a murder crime scene investigation? We did not have any professional police, or good investigative judges, or prosecutors to conduct professional crime scene investigations. All of this affects the performance of our prosecutors who have been awarded the cases, 20 years later. Most murders, including the murders of journalists, were not committed by one person. Some were e.g. drivers, and one day they would wage a war against their souls. I'm optimistic and hopeful that they will show up and say, this is how it happened, this is the evidence, or show us the location of the evidence.

However, in the investigation into the kidnapping of Ljubomir Knezevic, the witness refused to face the suspect in the courtroom and say what he had seen. When the court left him no other option, the witness changed his statement. Commenting on this situation, our interlocutor refers to the applicable Criminal Procedure Law that allows the witness to be heard again and his statement to be admissible into evidence, although it was previously rejected.

The investigation into the murder of journalist Shefki Popova indicates that UNMIK police have taken from his home everything that could be considered potential evidence. Data from UNS Investigation indicate that the investigation was obstructed during the mandate of the UN judiciary, and afterwards, in the process of handover of jurisdiction, this documentation did not reach EULEX. The question is what has happened to the evidence taken from Popova’s house.

UNS: When someone says that he/she has misplaced the evidence, is your first thought that it was intentional?

Kelmendi: That is obstruction of justice - nothing else. That is a criminal offence. Anyone who has obtained evidence and does not know where it is now, must be held criminally responsible, regardless of where he/she comes from.

Each piece of evidence is entered into the register by the judge, and if it is not known who could have removed it from the case file, then the judge is held liable. We had a lot of problems with UNMIK, and they claimed international immunity, which is absurd. If you have the jurisdiction of a judge or prosecutor in Kosovo, then you must always be held liable, wherever you are.

UNS: This is not the first time that you have heard about such situations, of evidence, cases being misplaced?

Kelmendi: We talk about it publicly, everywhere and with everyone, without any fear. It is true that this has happened in other cases as well, especially in cases where the victims are journalists.

UNS: Is politics the biggest obstacle to these investigations today or something else?

Kelmendi: Time is the biggest problem, because 20 years have passed already. Politics is quite different than in 1999 and no longer has such an impact so as to prevent investigative actions. We used to be afraid to say certain people’s names, and now we see them as defendants in court. We used to be afraid to mention certain politicians, and today they are convicts. Prosecutors and judges are much more independent, as well as the police.  

When it comes to investigating journalist murders, Prosecutor Kelmendi says it is important for witnesses to come forward.

Kelmendi: I urge all citizens, wherever they are, to forward information, if they have any, and I guarantee that their identity will be protected and that no one will know who the information has come from. They may contact us directly, or through you, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

It is important for you to convey that our Criminal Procedure Law allows a person who has witnessed a crime, and has perhaps even been a little involved, because he/she was at the crime scene or had to be at the crime scene, to be exempt from prosecution. Justice collaborators may be protected and we may protect them from threats and potential retribution. If they are mistrustful, they may address me personally, and I guarantee that the public will never find out who they are. They can help a lot and then sleep peacefully afterwards.

Information from UNS Investigation extremely important for investigating crimes against journalists

For the first time, we have confirmation that the data, published in a three-year UNS investigation, have been admitted by the Prosecutor’s Office as important for the investigation.

Kelmendi: This is very important information. We are required to verify all pieces of information that help us with our investigations through the police. I always send what is written in the media to the police. The police then compile a report for us, which we use together with the information we have received from your texts. Please be assured that your information is very important to us. I would also like to stress that there is no statute of limitation on cases relating to journalist murders and any new information and evidence helps us move forward.

* Reprinting, republishing or usage parts or the entire article is permitted with mandatory source guidance

comments (0)


No comments on this topic.


Molimo Vas da pročitate sledeća pravila pre komentarisanja:

Komentari koji sadrže uvrede, nepristojan govor, pretnje, rasističke ili šovinističke poruke neće biti objavljeni.

Nije dozvoljeno lažno predstavljanje, ostavljanje lažnih podataka u poljima za slanje komentara. Molimo Vas da se u pisanju komentara pridržavate pravopisnih pravila. Komentare pisane isključivo velikim slovima nećemo objavljivati. Zadržavamo pravo izbora i skraćivanja komentara koji će biti objavljeni. Mišljenja sadržana u komentarima ne predstavljaju stavove UNS-a.

Komentare koji se odnose na uređivačku politiku možete poslati na adresu unsinfo@uns.org.rs